The Journey to Mollie's War: WACS and World War II
Members of the Women’s Army Corps – WACs – were the first women other than nurses to serve overseas in World War II. Cyndee Schaffer’s mother, Mollie Weinstein Schaffer, was one of them. Drawing upon excerpts from Mollie’s letters written home during the war, this presentation provides a romantic, yet frightful, glimpse into the life of a woman in uniform during this crucial time in history.
This presentation details Mollie’s experiences from basic training in Florida in October 1943 to the dramatic moment when the Statue of Liberty came into view upon her return in November 1945. It traces the footsteps of the women who served in Europe, following Mollie and her fellow WACs who were stationed in London, England, before D-Day and during the post-D-Day German buzz bomb attacks.
The WACs were transferred to Normandy two months after D-Day and then to Paris after its liberation by the Allies. Finally, they traveled to Frankfurt, Germany, as part of the Army of Occupation and witnessed first-hand the devastation of that country before returning to the United States, where she enthusiastically embraced life as a resident of Chicago.
This presentation will also feature information about other WACs from Illinois, including two based at Camp Ellis in Fulton County who served as telephone operators for the Roosevelt-Churchill Conference in Quebec in September 1944. It will invite contemplation of the vital and varied roles that women have fulfilled in the American military and as citizens of Illinois.
Funded project of Illinois Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.